How the mighty have fallen; from one of the most successful teams in the history of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), Quetta Gladiators have now gone through two disastrous campaigns which saw them finish fifth and sixth on the points table.
Prior to PSL 5, Quetta Gladiators had the best win percentage among all the franchises. They had been runner-ups on two occasions in 2016 and 2017 while eventually winning the tournament in 2019. In the past two seasons, the side has suffered 13 losses out of 20 games they have played.
Lets’s take a look at where things started to go wrong for them.
Inexperience pace attack
Quetta’s bowling has been a major area of concern for them in the last two seasons. After their triumph in 2019, Quetta put their trust in young pacers like Muhammad Hasnain and Naseem Shah. Both are immensely talented and have a bright future ahead but they are still learning the craft.
They haven’t been able to pick up wickets with the new ball as well as stem the flow of runs, which in turn have created pressure on them towards the end of innings. Furthermore, not a single bowler from Quetta Gladiators features in the top ten wicket-takers this season.
This year they acquired the services of Dale Steyn to bolster the pace attack but he is not a potent force these days as he used to be. It was evident when Steyn was thrashed to all parts of the ground in the penultimate over by Sherfane Rutherford and Wahab Riaz in Karachi.
Spin to win has been Gladiators mantra since the inception of PSL but since the tournament moved to Pakistan, its effectiveness has decreased rapidly. In UAE, slow and low pitches provided assistance to Quetta bowlers and they capitalised on that. Even their medium pacers like Anwar Ali and co used variation that was effective but in Pakistan the pitches have been flat and condusive to stroke pay which had badly dented Quetta’s plan.
Inability to find like to like batting replacements
Quetta Gladiators had a very stable overseas batting contingent that comprised of Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright, and Rile Rossouw. Shane Watson and Jason Roy joined them in the subsequent seasons. Bring in Ahmed Shahzad and Umar Akmal in to the fold, Quetta possessed one of the most experienced and potent batting lineups. The decision of releasing Rossouw from the squad was a strange one as he was a major pillar for them in the middle order.
They brought in Chris Gayle this season but he wasn’t available for the whole season. Former South Africa captain Faf du Plessis also couldn’t deliver the goods this season and eventually had to miss the majority of the Abu Dhabi leg due to concussion. During the course of 10 games in PSL 6, seven players have opened the batting for Gladiators.
There is no doubt that Sarfaraz has been instrumental in Quetta’s success over the years. Not only he has led them from the front but his batting prowess has been immensely important in crunch situations. Although his side had a dismal campaign but he finished with 321 runs at an average of 45.
We all know Sarfaraz is a fiery character on the field and doesn’t hide his emotions but this time around his body language has been erratic. Getting riled up on bowlers after every ball was a regular sight during the whole tournament hence putting more pressure on his young bowling attack. It has been a tough last few years for Sarfaraz as he was removed from the captaincy of the national team and finds himself on the bench but he needs to look at his own attitude as his team can only improve if he gets his act together.